On Non-Alignment and Non-Polarity
Susan Aparicio ● Nathaniel Whitfield
How does the political project of Non-Alignment find itself articulated in the aesthetic, formal, social, economic and political gestures of contemporary art today?
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formed as a product of and catalyst for the struggle against and emergence out of colonialism. The Non-Aligned countries sought not only an inalienable right to self determination against hegemonic forces of the capitalist west and the soviet east but they drew a connection between anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle. For nations involved in decolonization struggles working to position themselves in a non-aligned relationship to the international world order was a gesture that often involved developing complicated, and often contradictory, relationships with multiple communities both internally within their own borders and externally outside of them. Given this, it is no surprise that recent years have witnessed a resurgence of scholarly interest in NAM, understood as the formation of a very different globalization to the contemporary neoliberal one.
What is the conceptual and contemporary relevance in Non-Alignment today?
In the process of trying to answer this question, we found ourselves repeatedly circling around the often remarked phrase “we live in polarized times.” To which we respond with a gesture in inverse - how artists pursue the non-polar as a method of countering polarization in terms of politics and identity. Non-alignment and non-polarity provide unique prisms through which to address economic, political, social and cultural imaginaries that challenge the dominant hegemonic order.
We are interested in the global conversations to be had on this topic, and we are thinking about the historically repetitive nature of polarity and the political shifts between countries. The working title of the exhibition, Once more, with feeling…, alludes to the allied areas of performativity, embodiment, representation and constructions of identity (and difference). How are artists dealing with aligning themselves or being aligned by their surrounding environment? We are acknowledging that non-polarity and non-alignment can be contextually and geographically specific and inhabit differing forms. We hope to highlight the ways that non-alignment and non-polarity can be visualized across different political cultures and places. We are interested to see what happens when artists’ responses from different locations are put in conversation with one another.
“... we can read ourselves against another people’s pattern, but since it is not ours… we emerge as its effects, its errata, its counternarratives. Whenever we try to narrate ourselves, we appear as disclocations in their discourse.”
Edward Said, After the Last Sky; Palestinian Lives
kelechi agwuncha ● Anika Ahuja ● Rachel Ashton ● Claire Chambless ● Woohee Cho ● Kevin Claiborne ● Ian Dolton-Thornton ● Anietie Ekanem ● Jenny Eom ● Alexis Gautier ● stephanie mei huang ● Sonia Knop ● Miguel Monroy ● Małgorzata Mycek ● Silvi Naçi ● Mariana Parisca ● Grace Phillips ● Guava Rhee ● Laurie Robins ● Shirin Towfiq ● Miko Veldkamp ● Gosia Wojas ● Evelyn Hang Yin ● Tania Zaidi ● Ana Baginski
Once More, With Feeling… brings together twenty four artists - all of whom are currently enrolled or newly graduated from Arts Education Programs (MFAs or equivalents) - in order to explore how the political project of Non-Alignment find itself articulated in the aesthetic, formal, social, economic and political gestures of contemporary art today.
The Exhibition is split into four prepositional categories BETWEEN, WITHIN, OUTSIDE and AROUND. The works talk to one another, the groups talk to one another. Whilst the prepositions accommodate resonances of solidarity and unity they also accommodate relations of difference, dislocation and disunity. The works challenge one another, the groups challenge one another. These categories work as structuring principles not to separate artworks and discourse but to entangle them; for it is the very relations BETWEEN, WITHIN, OUTSIDE and AROUND the work which interest us. The works talk to the viewer, the groups talk to the viewer. We acknowledge that such a structure of viewing is only one among many and that such an approach is always inevitably incomplete; there are many other artworks, many other voices, many other points of view which would have brought new ideas, new ways of seeing. The works challenge the viewer, the groups challenge the viewer.
There will be a series of weekly Saturday zoom panels in which the artists will be in conversation with one another and two moderators. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you there...
As you are navigating through this exhibition, please consider participating in Real Fiction Hotline, a live text messaging engagement enacted by artists Woohee Cho and Jenny Eom.
manuel arturo abreu ● Hannah Black ● Triwi Harjito ● Luce de Lire ● Darla Migan ● Christina Novakov-Ritchey ● Arushi Singh ● Ana Stojanović
About the New Wight Biennial
Founded in 1997 by professor and artist Mary Kelly, then chair of the UCLA Department of Art, the Wight Biennial is curated and produced by a committee of graduate students in the art department. The objective of the show is to exhibit this specific group of emerging artists as well as foster an investigative exchange between graduate programs at UCLA and other institutions.
The exhibition program of the New Wight Gallery is made possible through the generous support of Dallas Price-Van Breda.
We would also like to thank the following for the generous support: